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Haunted Dungeons: Hyakki Castle Review
Diving into this mythological dungeon crawler

Haunted Dungeons is an impressive 3D Real-time first-person dungeon crawler that keeps you on your toes. Think of games where you navigate maze-like floors in a step by step method. Persona and Etrian Odyssey are just a few examples games with a similar navigation style. However, the game does put a few fresh twists into the genre. Being able to separate your team for strategic purposes is among one of my favorite. Lots of gameplay, an itty bitty bit of Story.

File Size: 3.35 GB

Price US$: 18.99

Download on your PS4

Developer: Happinet

Also available on Nintendo Switch or PC.

The story is pretty Simple.

The Onmyojo master planning to take over the Shogunate has established in a remote island called Hyakki Island. Your task force, pretty much a Japanese feudal styled “Men In Black” agency, sends a team of four supernatural agents to the island. Their goal is to climb the source of the overflowing yokai threat and obtain the head of its master; Kigata Doman, waiting at the top. As you climb to the top, you get driven to a variety of Yokai battles beautifully and obviously inspired by Japanese Folklore. The story really isn’t the true hook of the game, either way, there is a story, but the game is focused on gameplay. That, and the variety of tortured up Yokai, you need to Yokai-bust.

About the Gameplay

As soon as you start a game and choose your difficulty, you’re thrown into the team creation screen. You have four spots to fill in the squad and a decent variety of characters you can employ. You have four races; Human, Oni, Tengu, Nekomata. The last three are Yokai races that have teamed up with humans to take down Hyakki Castle. Humans are balanced, and the Oni tends to be more defensive while their hunger deteriorates faster. Tengu, bird people, are strong hitters but are much weaker than the other races. Then a personal favorite, Nekomata. Feline magicians with High MP and powerful elemental spells. Despite all the races having a particular strength, there are also jobs available to customize them. Honestly, the jobs feel kind of puzzle piece-y just fitting a particular race. The Samurai, for example, is a balanced job, they have a level bonus in attack and defense, kind of like the human. Another Job is the Shinkan, which are basically described as mages. I wonder which would be the best race to play as a Shinkan. It didn’t bother me personally, but the limitation may be a bit of a turn off for more set experimenting players. If you have any preferred team load outs I would love to know.

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Now the battling is, where I was bathing in the rogue dungeon porn that is Hyakki Castle. The one thing that threw me was that, usually in first person games like this, you handle your battles in a turn-based manner. Not in this Castle my little shogun. We hack and slash our way through the hallways in here. Each character has 4 move slots. Moves are your garden variety RPG skills like healing, fire spells, heavy strikes, etc. A few things to remember about basic battling is that elements have a certain weakness most of the time (surprise?) or, they are weaker when attacked from behind (also surprise?). Now with all of this going on, you may feel overwhelmed considering that some floors are swarmed with monsters, that will pace towards you like Michael Myers until you are completely surrounded.

It Takes Two

Here is where the game changes the script just a tiny bit, at least it’s my first time experiencing a new mechanic in a game genre I felt was thoroughly overdone. You can split your party of four into two people of each, you can choose the formation. Something magical happens when you divide your team. One side gains agro/focus (slang for grabbing the attention of the enemy) but can’t move at all. However, their defense raises up sky high. They basically become super yokai beckoning statue. Leaving the other team to sneakily go around and attack the back of the enemy. If you hit the fire blasting cloud a bit too much and it’s attention turns to your fragile active team, just swap them. The battles are quite challenging on their own, however,  have you explored a dungeon where you didn’t have any human needs? Well, besides surviving the Geisha serpent women of the Castle, you must keep your group’s thirst quenched and their bodies nourished. Different actions affect the rate your hunger.

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The Verdict

While the story is nothing to throw an award at, but the gameplay and creativity of the game really bring it to the forefront of RPG game fanatics that love to just PLAY RPGs. There is not much story pushing you from one floor to the next, so I found myself really relying on the gameplay which isn’t an issue. However, I would have loved some actual cutscenes within the battles, or perhaps some lore to tell us the story behind the different monsters we meet in the dungeon. There should be more depth story-wise, at least for the beasties. The gameplay carries the player throughout the gameplay. For those looking for fun battles and increasing challenges, definitely jump into the game, the price won´t be an issue. Even if you don’t think it may be for you and the videos you see don’t fully convince you, trust me. The game is fun! Just don’t expect to reflect on yourself and your friendships and question the gravity of what your friends would do for you in world-saving situations. Or maybe that’s just me. See you in the Castle. Hopefully soon, somehow, the team will make a Yokai game like this but with multiplayer. The game is simple enough to get anyone to play. Take this tutorial for example;

Haunted Dungeons: Hyakki Castle

7.5

Story

5.0/10

Gameplay

10.0/10

Graphics

7.5/10

Cool

  • Great Combats Mechanics
  • Simple leveling up
  • Difficulty Levels
  • Does the Genre well

Not Cool

  • Story
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